Summertime is here and children have been trading in their class time for pool time as schools around the country are on hiatus until late August/early September.
Families have started to enjoy day trips, limited schedules, vacations, quality time together, and plenty of outdoor fresh air. However, although children would probably much prefer to shelve their books and ignore practicing those basic math facts – they shouldn’t, especially after this unusual pandemic school year.
Each fall, teachers wrestle with the inevitable “summer slide” – or summer learning loss where studies show there is significant knowledge loss in reading and math over summer break if children don’t practice these skills each day.
Thanks to COVID, learning declines throughout last year were very real for many children. However, it’s not all bad news! Kelly Ross, Oak Knoll's Academic Support Counselor, offers several ways families can help children combat the COVID slide – the gaps of academic growth and lowered expectations due to the learning disruptions from the 2020-21 school year.
Stay School Ready
The last thing your child wants to hear in the summer is that they must stay school-ready. Instead, try giving the control back to your child and encourage them to get organized and make their own workspace in your home. Perhaps you have an area in a room like your kitchen or den for a small desk. Encourage your child to make this station their own. If your child has an iPad or iPhone they can download a Google calendar or personal organizer like Planner Pro. By giving them a bit of ownership over their space, you’re inadvertently helping them with necessary executive functioning skills as they move through the school years.
Keep Kids Reading Each Day
Although eyes may roll when you tell your child to open the books during the summer, practicing reading skills each day for at least 20 minutes is essential. Reading each day, even in the summer, trains children not to lose their established reading stamina and prevents further slides during the off-months of school. Keeping up with reading is especially important this year because of the COVID remote time and additional school closures. If your child can’t focus on reading on their own, ask them to read aloud to you or a sibling. Or better yet – virtually check out your favorite books via Google Lit Trips – which allows children to become immersed in 3D literary field trips and virtually become traveling companions with characters in stories commonly taught in grades kindergarten through high school.
Practice Basic Math Facts
During the summer, and in addition to reading, kids should be practicing their math skills for 15 to 20 minutes at a time. There are many online platforms where your children can practice, including Khan Academy, Brain Pop and IXL. Check your children’s school website also for any summer math packets that might have been posted. The earlier your child gets a jump on your assigned summer work, the less likely they will be to race to finish the week before school begins.
Make Summer Learning Fun!
Help your children to find learning opportunities in the summer that are stress-free! Families everywhere have certainly had their fair share of stress this last school year. Perhaps give your child a journal where they can spend some time free writing or drawing on its pages. There are also several different online summer classes available to enroll in or there are also many different types of virtual field trips your child may be interested in exploring, including La Louvre and the American Museum of Natural History. Heading to the ballpark? Help your child keep score and figure out batting averages – this is a great way to inadvertently practice math skills.
At the conclusion of such an unusual and stressful school year, children certainly deserve their time off to relax, recoup and enjoy free time. Summer work does not have to be, nor should it be, stressful! There are several ways in which your child can continue to practice learning while having fun at the same time. Over the span of these upcoming long summer days, there is certainly more than enough time each day for your child to sharpen their skills for September. Not sure where to start? Consider making a family rule – no going out, riding bikes, heading to the pool until your child’s daily reading and math practice is finished. Now that’s motivation!